DC’s Picks

Tahiti and her Islands


Taha’a

Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa

There is a reason I chose to put Le Taha’a first when I for my French Polynesia picks. And being my first stop when I last visited the area, is NOT one of those reasons. Taha’a is not the easiest to get to. First, you have to get on an 8 hour flight to Papeete, Tahiti (from LAX), and then you take a smaller inter island plane to Raiatea. It might be a non-stop flight and it might not, as all those inter island flights adjust all the time. Even if you have to stop to Bora Bora or Huahine on the way, it’s usually less than a 15 minute stop. Raiatea is the closest airport to Taha’a, so you’ll board a water taxi and drive around the island to get to the magical Le Taha’a. It is worth the trouble. Being the ONLY RESORT on the island, it truly feels like a private island experience. Yes, there are overthewater bungalows, and they ARE stunning, but it’s the suites with their outdoor bathtubs in the enclosed private garden settings, which spell romance to me. “You had me at Coral Garden” are words that come to my mind, and explain why Le Taha’a is the first on this list. I snorkeled many coral gardens, but this one is right in the back yard. Just a short walk with your guide (provided by the resort) and you will get in the crystalline clear water and take a drift snorkel through an impressive garden of coral bursting with tropical fish! If I was to ever have another honeymoon, Le Taha’a would be my 1st stop. One of the things that is accessible to do from Taha’a, is a vanilla plantation tour at Raiatea. Each vanilla bean is hand pollinated, which explain why this vanilla is the finest vanilla in the world.  Great tour while at this resort. For exclusive Le Taha’a specials,  e-mail me.

Moorea

Sofitel Morea Ia Ora Beach Resort

Moorea is so very dramatic with it’s steep, volcanic hills. People either love it, or don’t care much for it. I, personally, LOVE IT. And those dramatic green peaks plunging down to the lush gardens and perfect beaches is exactly what I love about Moorea. It is just a 30 minute ferry ride from Papeete, so you can get to it without having to get on another plane. Picking my favorite for this island was not nearly that easy. Hilton Moorea came in as my second choice, even though I have my own photo at Hilton Moorea as the back of my business card. I still went with Sofitel. It was a toss up. I think it went to Sofitel mostly because the chef wowed me with his menu, ingredients, and by creating dishes that are just a bit different from all the other resorts, but still pay homage to Tahiti and local ingredients. The spa is also a factor at this resort with it’s indoor and outdoor massage options. The over the water bungalows are the star at this resort, as the coral and the fish below them make their own mini coral garden, perfect for snorkeling off your deck. Definitely bring your own mask, because you won’t be able to stay away from it. The bathrooms have a regular rain shower, with the glass door enclosure that you can open and continue your private shower outdoors. There is one small square in the room on the floor where you can look under your bungalow, but the deck outside has 2 levels, one with 2 club chairs, and another one, lower, with the lounge chairs. In my book Moorea is a must-see. Activities like shark feeding, swimming with sting rays and coral gardens, are a staple to both Moorea and Bora Bora, but they are vastly different experiences. If you can do both – YOU SHOULD! And I have a secret place in Moorea where I buy the most amazing black pearl gifts for my friends, and couple of must-do’s. For exclusive Moorea packages and specials e-mail me.

Bora Bora

Le Meridien Bora Bora

Yes, I have been to St.Regis and I have been to Four Seasons Bora Bora. In our travel community there is always a discussion which is better St. Regis or Four Seasons, and now Conrad is in that mix, too. And they all impressed me, as well as Intercontinental Thalasso. And I am still picking Le Meridien for my Bora Bora DC’s Pick! What I like about it is the large glass floors in the overthewater bungalows, If you swim under you can see inside the bungalow at night. I like that the resort is unpretentious, relaxed, but still elegant and upscale. Also, the conservation efforts at their own turtle center Bora Bora, where they have a marine biologist on staff to take care of injured turtles is a project very close to my heart. Most of the resorts in Bora Bora have some sort of rehabilitation center and are committed to the marine life in one way or another, as the marine life makes this amazing archipelago what it is. There is also a wedding chapel with a glass bottom floor! You can get married with  not only 360 view, but the view under your feet! They say Bora Bora has 42 shades of blue in their water, and this is NOT a marketing ploy, it is just the truth. You can take your cellphone and snap any photo and it will look like a screen saver, and yet, what you are seeing around you pales in comparison to any photo. When they say picture is worth a thousand words, I say picture doesn’t do it justice. What I tell my honeymoon couples is to put their cameras down and absorb this profound experience that is French Polynesia….For exclusive Bora Bora packages e-mail me.

St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

There is a reason why Jade Mountain is the very first on this page. It is by far the greatest resort in all of Caribbean, and one of the top hotels in the world. Without a doubt. There are no pictures or words to describe it. You can only understand it if you go there. It was in the works for great many years, the vision of a true genius Nick Troubetzkoy. When I tell my clients and friends that when you walk into one of the suites at Jade Mountain, first thing you feel is the Caribbean breeze, as the suites DO NOT have air conditioning, people give me puzzled look, how could it not have air-conditioning. It is just not necessary – plain and simple,it is constructed to allow natural flow of air. They are not called rooms or suites, but sanctuaries. Every sanctuary has it’s own private infinity plunge pool with the famous Pitons reflecting in the water, and the pools range from 450-900sq.ft. The tile in the pool is abalone shell, which makes for a stunning visual. The sanctuaries are purposely technology free, no TVs in the room, but for technology addicted the resort provides wi-fi. The cuisine at Jade Mountain club is created by the celebrated James Beard Award winning Chef Allen Susser, and it is as unique and delectable as the resort itself. The Celestial Terrace on the top of the resort is perfect for a cocktail while the sun sets. Try Camila’s Voodoo, various blend of rums and juices. Below Jade Mountain is a gorgeous Anse Chastanet, another Nick Troubetzkoy’s triumph. In completely different style than Jade Mountain, it embraces nature and everything St.Lucian. The art and artifact collection provides a whole another elevated experience. It is no wonder that year after year Jade Mountain is being voted #1 resort in the Caribbean. For my scuba divers – excellent diving right off the beach, even shore diving is possible. For more information as there are always packages and free nights offered, or for a brochure to be sent to you, e-mail me.

Los Cabos, Mexico

One and Only Palmilla

This one will take your beath away the minute you arrive. Sophisticated resort, full of old world charm of a hacienda, ultimately luxurious. The very best beach in all of Cabo stretches on one side of the resort, dramatic rocks with waves breaking on the other side. Being in this business, you can imagine how many 5 star properties I have seen. Most of them pale in comparison with One and Only Palmilla. The grounds are IMMACULATE. Landscaping is quite lush. With several fine didning options at the resort, the food lives up to the high expectation. One of the only places in Cabo, where you can order special cuts of aged beef. For a milestone occasion like a 10 or 20 year anniversary, THIS is the place to book. As romantic as Palmilla is, their suites are perfect for families. There are large 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-+ bedroom suites (and private vilas), perfect for even several generations to stay in one place, with beautiful common areas, and plenty of privacy in the oversized bedrooms and beautifully appointed bathrooms. Kids club is quite sophisticated and well organized. A very nice amenty is a bottle of tequila specially designed for One and Only, that is presented to every room at check in.  For more information on special romance packages or a multi-generational family vacation  dc@cosmopolitantravels.com.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

NOW AMBER

Now Amber  opened it’s doors in 2012, at the same time as the adult-only version right next door  Secrets Vallarta Bay.  Boasting Unlimited-Luxury® with 7 gourmet options as well as 24-hr room service, top shelf liquor. The bars are serving delicious cocktails: Oasis being one of the signature cocktails available throughout the resort and Creamy Coffee Martini in the lobby bar. Cafe del Fuego in Oceana Restaurant is a MUST. Bring your kids, Explorer’s Club has daily activities for 3-12 year olds. My favorite suites are swim out suites and preferred club suites. Desires nightclub, done in Moroccan style, serves some fun shots, has VIP areas, and you can also order flavored hookah. The drinks are a part of the all-inclusive experience, hookah has an additional charge. Also the concept of Unlimited Connectivity® is beautifully applied at this resort. Aside from free wi-fi throughout the resort, all your international phone calls to United States and Canada are free. Also, if you are expecting a call to your room, it can easily be re-touted to the app on your cell phone. Spanning over 14,000 square feet, the magnificent Spa by Pevonia treats you with dozens of pampering choices. Experience pure indulgence through a combination of the latest hydrotherapy and indigenous treatments. This is also an excellent resort for multi-generational groups and corporate travel as well. For specials, weddings, honeymoons email me dc@cosmopolitantravels.com.

Maui, Hawaii

Royal Lahaina Resort

I may be biased, as I was at this property for my very first vacation with my husband, and we had a great time. But as I visited the property 14 years later after an extensive remodel, I would like to highlight this relatively affordable, laid back hotel on the West Coast of Maui, where you can enjoy a great beach. The breakfast buffet is a excellent way to start your day, and the pool grill serves some really tasty steak sandwiches for lunch. Daily Luau is served with an excellent show right by the beach. Afternoon pool bar serves some delicious Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians at happy hour prices. The sunsets I feel are the star of this resort. Absolutely stunning all year round.

The resort is set on 27 acres and it is on Kaanapali Beach, which has been voted “America’s best beach” and I will tend to agree with that statement. Each evening the torchlighting ceremony and a hula dancer by the Royal Terrace restaurant will get you in the Aloha spirit.

For more information on Aloha Special Value Rates and Royal Experience Packages or Wedding Packages, e-mail me.

Cozumel, Mexico

Secrets Aura

Cozumel, with all of it’s underwater beauty, sometimes lacks in good beaches. With the abundance of coral, some of the most beautiful hotels lack a beach completely. Secrets Aura has a beautiful white sand beach, although I will recommend water shoes for comfort. Right in front of the resort there is abundant snorkeling. You can get a mask from the watersports as a loaner, but I would urge you to bring your mask, because you will not take it off. Visibility is absolutely fantastic most of the year and several notable areas are a MUST for any diver even a beginner: San Francisco Wall (45-120 ft) and Palancar Gardens. Dive house is the dive cenetr on site, and the dock is right in front of the resort. Coral reefs of Cozumel are home to over 250 species of fish, my very favorite are blue Angel Fish, which you will usually see in pairs. The resort itself is adult-only, with beautifully appointed suites some of them swim out suites, preferred club and the crowning glory of the resort – Preferred Club Solarium and Pool Suite Ocean View. For my brides asking me for sunset in Cancun and Riviera Maya, I always bring up Cozumel, since West Side of Cozumel is the only place you can have a sunset wedding. The resort itself is laid back, with pool drink service. With 6 restaurants, all with excellent food, I must point out french restaurant Bordeaux should not be missed. Drinks are top-shelf liquor, served in 5 bars, including a swim up bar (in the preferred club area), and rooftop bar at the nightclub Desires. Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal visits it almost annually, it is his very favorite place in the Yucatan area. Currently, Secrets Aura is the one of the few AM Resorts not participating in Unlimited Connectivity®, but when there – you shoud be in the water – not on your cell phone. For weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals and getaway trips e-mail me.

Dominican Republic

Zoëtry Agua & Paradisus Palma Real

Two very different resorts, both very luxurious. Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana is one of the several Zoëtry resorts to introduce Art of Life® concept of Endless Privileges®. At Zoëtry there is no check in or check out time, bath amenities are by Bvlgari, and a complimentary massage is included in your room charge, your beach bag will be waiting for you and the staff is there to make sure your every wish is fulfilled. Gourmet dining features both spa cuisine and regular menu. Romance, tranquility, escape are the words that come to mind when talking about this resort. Ideal resort for fitness and wellness groups. Yoga classes are offered on the beach and in the studio several times a day. Just in case you get restless and feel like a night on the town, you can get a taxi (about $15 each way) and drive down (about 10 minutes) to Breathless resort and spa, where you can enjoy exchange privileges. Breathless has an extensive entertainment program, as well as a rooftop night club and 7 restaurants. My favorite room is the beachfront suite with it’s own plunge pool. The resort is located about an hour away from the Punta Cana airport in the area called Uvero Alto, which boasts gold sand and crystal clear waters. Paradisus Palma Real is an institution in Punta Cana. It has always been THE RESORT TO GO TO in Punta Cana. Royal Service is the epitome of luxury. Located on the beautiful white sand Bavaro beach lined with palm trees, this is what everyone thinks of when they say Punta Cana. One of the restaurants is “Passion by Martin Berasategui” a AAA 4-Diamond restaurant. Chef Martin Berasategui is has 7 Michelin stars and is considered one of the top chefs in the world. For the golfers, Paradisus Palma Real includes unlimited free green fees at the “Cocotal Golf & Country Club”. They can handle any size Destination Wedding, corporate events and any kind of a luxury travel group. However, with Secrets Cap Cana under construction and heading for opening in 2016, it will be interesting to see if Paradisus Palma Real will be able to keep their top resort distinction. For any Dominican Republic travel e-mail me.

Jamaica

Jamaica Inn & Royal Plantation

One of my very favorite properties in all of Jamaica is Jamaica Inn. Full of old world elegance and charm. Located on the prettiest beach in all of Ocho Rios, only 4 miles from Dolphin Cove. Resort consists of only 48 rooms and villas, all decorated in Wedgewood blue. This 65 year old resort was the Mekka for the rich and famous of the golden time of Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller toasted their honeymoon here. Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, sipped martinis at the bar. Noel Coward, Errol Flynn, Katherine Hepburn and many more greats often graced the lounge and retreated to the spacious rooms and villas. Sir Winston Churchill also frequented the Inn and ended up painting a scene of the hotel, now owned by the Sultan of Brunei. Churchill was partial to the White Suite and today a plaque sits at the entrance of the suite to commemorate his stay. In addition to these famous names, Jamaica Inn has played host to several international Heads of State as well as Jamaican Prime Ministers over the years. The 3 bedroom villa where Marilyn Monroe honeymooned is away from the main areas of the resort and has it’s own plunge pool and outdoor shower. If you are considering a classic Hollywood themed wedding, there can not be a better place anywhere in the Caribbean.
Anothel elegant resort that made my top Jamaica list is Sandals Royal Plantation. The smallest resort in Sandals portfilio. This 74 all-butler all-oceanview suite resort, serves high tea every afternoon and has been awarded a 4 diamond distinction. The french restaurant Papillon is exceptional. This all-inclusive resort has a 5 minute transfer and full privilege at nearby Ochi Beach Club, and their livelier atmosphere and 15 restaurants. Do not miss canlelit dinner for 2 served to you by your white-gloved butler in the gabeo over the water. For any travel to Jamaica email me.

Bahamas

Emerald Bay

The reason I picked Emerald Bay is simple – it’s located in the Exuma area of the Bahamas, and that is just heaven on earth. The most clear waters, unspoiled beaches, completely different vibe of Nassau and it’s hustle. This resort used to be a Four Seasons, until Sandals bought it, remodeled it and it boasts a stunning Greg Norman signature golf course. The award-winning course at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club is recognized as one of the most scenic ocean-side golf courses in the Caribbean and renowned for its challenging fairways. A golfer’s paradise, six signature holes hug the coastline of a scenic peninsula, and prevailing trade winds promise new experiences with each game. Most of the butler suites will come with unlimited green fees. Accommodating yachts up to 240 ft., the Marina at Emerald Bay is a full-service boater’s paradise, featuring floating docks & complete with utilities such as electricity, water, cable TV, wi-fi & telephone, along with the advantage of 3-phase power (30/50/100 amp), essential for servicing large yachts.
The resort is secluded within 500 tropical acres along a pristine, mile-long beach, it has 7 restaurants and 4 bars that offer unlimited drinks and meals.
My personal ‘bucket list’ MUST DO is swimmimg with the pigs (if you google “swimmimg pigs of the Bahamas” you will see what I am talking about), and it is an excursion offered from the resort. Scuba diving and snorkeling are spectacular. Even if you have been elsewhere in the Bahamas, you must see the beauty of Exumas. For more information on this or any other Sandals resort, click here. For any Bahamas travel e-mail me.


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